Lawmakers propose 15% cut to K-12 education to address budget shortfall
On Thursday, May 21 the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) of the Colorado Legislature finished its budget balancing work for 2020-2021 and it includes a cut of more than 15% from the state's K-12 education budget. The JBC is responsible for sponsoring the Long Bill, or the budget bill. The Legislature will consider the budget bill when it returns, which is currently scheduled for Tuesday, May 26.
After receiving updated revenue forecasts earlier in May, the JBC was tasked with making $3.3 billions in cuts to balance next year's budget (July 1, 2020 - June 30, 2021). That amounts to 10% of the overall state budget and 25% of the state’s general fund.
The proposed state cuts to K-12 education total $724 million. That includes a $147 million cut in grant programs and a $577 million cut to the School Finance Act. The mechanics of the cut in the School Finance Act will be left to the sponsors of that bill. Given this, it is unknown what the exact reduction will be to school funding for the Five Star District.
Before the JBC landed on the reduction in education funding, Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order on Monday, May 18 directing $510 million that the state is receiving from the federal coronavirus relief bill to K-12 schools. As a result of the governor's order, Adams 12 Five Star Schools received $18.9 million. This is one-time funding and completely separate from the $724 million cut to education as the JBC has proposed.
Even with the $510 million in one-time funding from the governor’s executive order, K-12 education will face cuts. What remains uncertain is how significant those cuts will be. For the Five Star District, the potential for reductions to balance the budget range from $0 million to $9.2 million after the use of one-time federal funds and/or one-time district funds.
Beyond next fiscal year, the state forecast for fiscal 2021-2022 shows a roughly $2 billion shortfall. You can read more in this article from Chalkbeat.
What about the district's budget for next year?
In the coming days and weeks the district will engage multiple stakeholders in its budgeting process for next year, including our school principals, DTEA, CSEA and the District Accountability Committee (DAC).
The Adams 12 Five Star Schools Board of Education must adopt a budget for the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year by June 30, 2020. The board will hear a presentation about the 2020-2021 budget and potential impacts on the district at a special board meeting on Wednesday, May 27. The presentation will be live streamed on the district's YouTube Channel.
It is important to note that no budget decisions related to this latest news from the state, including any potential reductions, have been made to date. We will continue to provide updates as this budget process at the state level moves along.